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Swiss Federal President Viola Amherd, right, and Volodymyr Zelenskyy, left, President of Ukraine. Alamy
peace forum

Swiss accept Zelenskyy's request to stage Ukraine peace summit

Earlier, Zelenskyy had requested Switzerland host the event before the World Economic Forum.

SWITZERLAND HAS AGREED to a request by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy to host a peace summit of world leaders on ending Russia’s full-scale invasion – but without inviting Russia.

Zelenskyy held talks with Swiss President Viola Amherd during a visit to Bern before heading to the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in the Swiss ski resort of Davos.

“Our teams from tomorrow are starting the preparation for holding in Switzerland a global peace summit,” Zelenskyy told a press conference after the talks.

The summit attendees would be “at the level of leaders”, he said.

“This summit must energise everything that has already been achieved and must determine that the end of the war must be exceptionally just, and the restoration of the force of international law must be truly complete.”

February marks two years since Russia’s war in Ukraine began, and Moscow has intensified its aerial assaults on Ukraine in recent weeks.

‘Enormous suffering’

As for whether Russia would be invited to the summit, Zelenskyy said: “We are open to all countries of the world that respect our sovereignty and territorial integrity. Therefore you can draw conclusions on whom we invite.”

“We would want the countries of the global south to be present, for sure,” he added, and “we would want China to be involved”.

Zelenskyy said it was very important that “leaders attend the summit. It is very important for us to show that the whole world is against Russia’s aggression and the whole world is for a just peace”.

No timescale was given for when the summit might be held.

“We would like to have a widely supported summit with as many countries as possible participating, in order to be successful,” Amherd said.

“Once the time has come when we see that we can hold a successful summit, we will jointly organise that.”

The decision to hold a peace summit comes after national security advisors from 83 countries held a fourth round of talks on Sunday in Davos, seeking common ground on Ukraine’s peace formula.

Demining and frozen assets

Amherd said demining was crucial for reconstruction and recovery, and announced that a high-level conference on the challenges of humanitarian demining in Ukraine would be held in Geneva in October.

“Humanitarian mine clearance is a prerequisite for displaced people to be able to safely return to their homes and for agricultural land to be cultivated,” she said.

Zelenskyy said 174,000 square kilometres of Ukrainian territory were contaminated with Russian mines and unexploded ordnance, and said an international meeting ahead of the Geneva conference could be held in the coming months.

Switzerland’s long-standing position is one of well-armed military neutrality. It has refused to send armaments to Kyiv or allow countries that hold Swiss-made weaponry to re-export it to Ukraine.

But it has matched the European Union’s economic sanctions on Russia following Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

Zelenskyy said the fate of frozen Russian financial assets in countries around the world was an “urgent issue”.

“Using the assets of Russia and its associates to defend against Russian aggression is not only effective as a punishment for the aggressor, but also quite fair,” he said.

“The one who started this war should pay the highest price for it.”

© AFP 2024